NEW DELHI: “Thank You, Gautam Sawang, you should be part of this celebration since you nurtured me professionally in Liberia,” says
United Nations Woman Police Officer of the Year, Assistant Superintendent Doreen Mazuba Malambo. Damodar Gautam Sawang is the current Director General of Police of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh and was Police Commissioner in the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) from 2009 to 2012 during Malambo’s first stint in the UN. Promoted after her UN award in November 2020, Zambia’s Malambo is on her second stint in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), where she is Gender Advisor to the Police Commissioner.
From Juba, the capital of South Sudan, Asst. Superintendent Malambo spoke to StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi on her love affair with the country, her journey in a blue beret, the lessons learnt from her personal experience of domestic violence and her role in helping local communities. She also explained why the locals call her ‘Gipsiri’, which means secret pocket in their language.
UNMIL was the first UN peacekeeping operation to have an all-women contingent with India’s 125-strong rotational deployment of policewomen from 2007 to 2016. UNMIL’s mandate ran from 2003 to March 2018. In UNMISS, India has over 2,500 personnel, including two Indian Army battalions and about 23 police personnel, 10 of them women in peacekeeping operations. India has contributed the most number of peacekeepers, participated in the most missions and lost the most personnel in UN blue beret operations among member states.
South Sudan is the world’s newest country, gaining independence from Sudan in 2011 as the outcome of a 2005 agreement that ended Africa’s longest civil war. But that didn’t bring conflict to an end. Civil war that broke out in 2013 after a fallout between President Salva Kiir and Vice President Dr Riek Machar killed an estimated 400,000 people and displaced another four million plus people. A power-sharing deal in 2018 is trying to end that conflict. In February 2020, a transitional coalition government was formed between the two leaders and outstanding issues are still being negotiated.